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Overcoming a challenging work environment


As much as we would all like to think, or at least dream, to the contrary, there are times when things at work get under our skin. There is the person, or persons, who repeatedly refuses to be a team player and somehow HR seems to think that’s acceptable. Maybe it’s a supervisor who is so petrified of confrontation that they choose to look the other way. If you say something to try and remedy or expose the situation, you’re viewed as someone who causes dissent and are accused of creating a hostile work environment. What is one to do?

Let’s look at all the players in this little soap opera we like to call work. There is an HR department, who seems like they don’t answer to anyone. They are the untouchables of the corporate world in your estimation, with little to no executive oversight. Then there is you supervisor, who is content by making sure there are no bonfires. You have your esteemed colleague who is willing to do the minimum to get by while the rest of the work is distributed unevenly among the people with a more elevated work ethic. The final player in this game is you.

That is quite a cast for this theatrical production. There are various characters that have their own little quirky way of doing life and how all that works together ends up being a comedy and a tragedy at the same time. Of all the people in this little play, over which person do you believe you actually have any control?

As much as we would like to revamp HR, get a more assertive supervisor, give a healthy kick in the pants to a sloth-like team mate, the only person we can control is ourselves. Probably that wasn’t the answer you were hoping to get when you began reading this article, but it’s true. We can only control ourselves.

We have the option of viewing our work situation in two ways: ¹ We are a victim to our environment so our outrage and contempt is completely justified. ² We are able to influence our environment and we choose to make it a pleasant one. I suppose there could be a third view of simply giving up and moving on, but that could easily fall under the victim of the environment view.

What would happen if you just chose to be excellent no matter what others chose to do, or not do? Is it possible that by you simply choosing to be better that the poor attitudes and slack work ethic will become exposed to an even greater degree? This shouldn’t be some passive aggressive way to seek out vengeance. It is merely choosing to do what you know is the best you can do regardless of your circumstances, situation, or environment.

Does your best have to be predicated on the success or work ethic of others? I would argue that it doesn’t. You have greatness to share with the world and your perspective dictates how much of that greatness comes through you. Greatness doesn’t rest within us, it passes through us. We are not containers, we are conduits. Let your choice to contribute to creating a better environment govern your actions. The only way you can keep someone in a ditch is to stay in the ditch with them. Trying to prove how terrible someone is acting is nothing more than staying in the ditch with them. Life’s short, so don’t get hung up on the petty stuff and as always, have fun!

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